First Drive

2019 Nissan Maxima First Drive Review | 4DGT not 4DSC

Stylish and comfy, but no sports car

2019 Nissan Maxima Platinum
2019 Nissan Maxima Platinum / Image Credit: Nissan
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  • Engine
    3.5L V6
  • Power
    300 HP / 261 LB-FT
  • Transmission
  • Seating
  • Cargo
    14.3 CU FT
  • MPG
    20 CITY / 30 HWY
  • Base Price

The Nissan Maxima enters the third model year of this generation for 2019, and Nissan saw fit to give it a feather-light refresh. The new model gets full-LED headlights and taillights, a sharper grille and front bumper, and quad exhaust tips at the back. A new burnt-orange paint called Sunset Drift is now available, as well as a Platinum Reserve Package that features the same tan leather as available in the Nissan GT-R. Finally, the car has Safety Shield 360 as an option, which includes automatic emergency braking, rear cross traffic alert, lane departure warning, blind-spot monitoring, automatic high-beam headlights and rear automatic emergency braking. It's a standard feature on the Platinum trim and included with the SR trim's Premium Package.

And that's where the changes end. Underneath the freshened exterior is the same Maxima that was available for 2016. That includes a 3.5-liter naturally aspirated V6 making 300 horsepower and 261 pound-feet of torque mated to a CVT and driving only the front wheels. It's a responsive and rev-happy engine, powerful enough to be entertaining but coarse at lower RPM. The CVT is unobtrusive, keeping revs low and varied in normal driving, and then allowing for near-redline driving in Sport mode. Manual shifting is prompt and the ratios are mostly held, though we did notice a little bit of rev hang-up indicating there was a little ratio massaging happening. The addition of shift paddles would improve the experience ... maybe for the next refresh.

Nissan likes to call the Maxima a "4DSC," an acronym that dates way back in the model's history and stands for "4-Door Sports Car." The powertrain does a solid job in that regard, despite the CVT, but the car's handling lets it down. It corners flatly and feels planted, but the steering is frostbite-level numb and hampered further by significant vagueness off-center. The ride is comfortable and compliant, though. It seems 4DGT would be a better term for the Maxima.

The Maxima is quite nice inside. We drove a Maxima Platinum with the Platinum Reserve Package, and that GT-R leather really is beautiful, especially with the diamond top-stitching. Most parts of the dashboard are wrapped in leather or leatherette, which also makes the car feel high-end. The infotainment isn't top of its class for design or functionality, but it is improved with the now-standard Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Accommodations are tight up front, though. Your 5-foot-11-inch author's noggin was nigh nudging the headliner with the seat in its lowest position.

Overall, the Maxima is a stylish, luxurious and comfortable large sedan. Style in particular is its strong suit, since primary competitors such as the Impala and Avalon are pretty drab and/or strange looking. But if you're looking for a real 4-Door Sports Car, you'll want to look elsewhere.

Pricing for the 2019 Nissan Maxima, $895 destination included, is as follows:

  • Maxima S: $34,845
  • Maxima SV: $36,855
  • Maxima SL: $39,335
  • Maxima SR: $40,425
  • Maxima Platinum: $42,335

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